In this part, we are going to discuss what comes under the order of relational habit and talk about the communication to adopt in relation to a change strategy.

To begin with, I would say that if there was no resistance to individual change in a relational setting, there would be no need to be strategic in its communication; it would be enough to ask someone for something to obtain it. Alas, things don't happen that way in life, whether at work or in personal and family life.

We can cite many examples of resistance to change expressed in an opposition that harms the desired collaboration: no commitment of an employee in a process of reorganization, no support of an HR system by a DG, a interlocutor who remains on a priori during a decisive interview, hiring or annual interview, an executive who remains on his positons, at school students who continue to provoke, to argue, while sanctions threaten, a patient who does not observe the treatment prescribed to him, or a coachee who challenges the coach by saying that we have already tried and that it did not work........

Faced with the resistance of an interlocutor, one is tempted to insist, to convince, to try to win the case. But we know very well that when we propose a rational solution to an emotional blockage, we cannot be effective. As Pascal said, "the heart has its reasons which reason does not know". It is therefore necessary to use another communication channel.

Resistance, as we have said, is expressed by an opposition which can be explicit or implicit.

1) Explicit opposition

A few examples: the classic trade union game against a management, an employee who opposes his manager, teenagers against their parents, victims of life, depressed people who ask for help but defeat any form help offered....

The communication of explicit opponents is part of the emotional, most often anger, and leads them to say no because it is no. They are in a high position, of confrontation, sure of them like Goliath, which gives them a feeling of power, control of their interlocutors and brings them the proof that they are important.

Faced with explicit opponents, two types of communication are possible:

  • We can respond in the same way if we feel capable of it; but there is a risk of racing, of symmetrical escalation if one tries to convince the other at all costs. Because the more you oppose, the more it gives him strength, as happens with a wild beast that becomes all the more enraged as you try to control it.
  • Refrain from responding, avoid the invitation to confrontation; this attitude most often leads to relational stabilization over time. This is the pattern in which the problems of harassment, couples and families crystallize.

With an explicit opponent, communication must be paradoxical, the opposition itself being systematic, insistent but predictable. Instead of being linear, it should rather take the form of a circular force, as in martial arts.

We then proceed to a benevolent reframing on the usefulness of the opposition to envisage better cooperation in the future after taking into account the challenge.

2) The implicit opposition 

It advances masked: it is for example an employee who commits to his hierarchy to change but who does not enter into it. The ambivalence is very present and persistent.

The communication of the implicit opponents is of the rational, factual contradictory type. They officially give a yes and then a no which sabotages the first yes. "Now is not the time, it won't last".....which is like saying no. They are difficult people to handle.

They have a low, hesitant, intimidated position, use sabotage which allows them to dodge what they perceive as a threat, and to preserve a comfort zone.

Attempts to respond to this type of opponents:

  • push yes. "If you can do it, you can do it"
  • denounce the contradiction, unmask it. 

There too, there is a risk of symmetrical escalation in both cases, the implicit being able to become explicit.

It is advisable to use a provocative contradictory message, with a high position: "You know, we get used to everything" "You could do something but you are not able to do it at the moment".

This communication generally makes the implicit opponent react.

It is also desirable to reduce the conditions of comfort that hinder change, particularly in managerial coaching situations.